WASHINGTON – Pat Summitt, the former head coach of the University of Tennessee’s women’s basketball team, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced Thursday.
Summitt, the winningest coach in basketball history, announced her retirement Wednesday after coaching the Lady Volunteers for 38 years. Summitt was diagnosed less than a year ago with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.
President Obama, an avid basketball fan, called Summitt an “inspiration.” He praised her willingness to speak openly about her disease and her coaching skills.
“Pat’s gift has always been her ability to push those around her to new heights, and over the last 38 years, her unique approach has resulted in both unparalleled success on the court and unrivaled loyalty from those who know her and those whose lives she has touched,” Obama said in a statement. “Pat’s coaching career may be over, but I’m confident that her work is far from finished. I look forward to awarding her this honor.”